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Youthful Saints lose 40-26 at Vikings
SAINTS ended Easter empty handed after a youthful side lost 40-26 at Widnes.
Although it is hard to fault the effort, once again Saints paid for a poor start - and trailed 18-4 after 30 minutes.
Once again mistakes were Saints' undoing with stand in full back Lance Hohaia's failure to catch a second-minute bomb allowed Widnes to respond with Danny Galea powering through, sending the supporting Rhys Hanbury over for the opener. Tickle improved and the ace kicker would have a productive afternoon with the boot.
A look down the teamsheet showed an experience imbalance with Saints leaving out the spine of the team, plus a number of key forwards.
And that looked like it was going to make it a painful afternoon's viewing for the healthy contingent of travelling fans who took both ends of the ground.
Saints withstood pressure from three penalties on their own line before Tickle finally lost the ball going over the line.
But they could do nothing to stop Widnes doubling their lead when Willie Isa was given space to run down the left flank and touched down in the corner, Tickle converting.
Saints lost wing Matty Dawson with a fractured cheekbone, with Joe Greenwood also needing his head bandaged. It meant a reshuffle with Sia Soliola reverting to centre.
But after a fine break from 18-year-old Andre Savelio, Soliola forced his way over on the right but Tommy Makinson missed the conversion.
Vikings were soon back on the attack, and the powerful Alex Gerrard powered in from close range, which with Tickle's boot made it 18-4.
But a powerful close to the half from big Mose Masoe helped Saints close the gap.
First off the big prop barged his way over from close range after a fine break from Josh Jones in the build up.
Then Masoe turned ball-player with Wilkin sending Paul Wellens over for a try to cut the deficit to two points at the break.
But Widnes again started the best, with Hanbury back on with a bandaged nose, scoring his second and Tickle missing a rare goal.
But Vikings were on a roll and when Tickle and Chris Dean engineered an overlap, Paddy Flynn exploited it, cutting inside Hohaia en route to the try line.
At 28-12 that looked like it, but Saints have a touch of the Lazarus about them these days and Makinson sneaked in at the corner after a powerful burst by Savelio, but Hohaia missed the goal.
However, Dean - after being held up over the line - then got the killer try on 66 minutes.
It left Saints chasing 14 points in as many minutes, and although Hohaia finished off a Gary Wheeler break to cut the deficit it proved too much.
They bombed two chances, with Soliola doing the hard work but passing after Widnes full back Hanbury had bought his dummy. And shortly afterwards another opportunity went to ground.
With the last chance gone, Vikings went the length of the field allowing the powerful Macgraff Leuluai to force his way over.
Jack Owens' goal wrapped up the scoring to send the home fans in the 7,706 crowd away happy.
Saints: 6. Lance Hohaia; 2. Tommy Makinson, 4. Josh Jones, 24. Gary Wheeler, 26. Matty Dawson; 17. Paul Wellens, 12. Jon Wilkin; 8. Mose Masoe, 36. Matty Fozard, 25. Anthony Walker, 11. Sia Soliola, 23. Joe Greenwood, 28. Luke Thompson.
Subs: 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 29. Jordan Hand, 31. James Tilley, 33. Andre Savelio.
Widnes: 1. Rhys Hanbury; 20. Paddy Flynn, 14. Chris Dean, 3. Cameron Phelps, 2. Jack Owens; 6. Kevin Brown, 28. Grant Gore; 10. Ben Kavanagh, 15. Lloyd White, 18. Paul Johnson, 17. Danny Galea, 12. Danny Tickle, 24. Macgraff Leuluai.
Subs: 13. Hep Cahill, 16. Willie Isa, 19. Adam Lawton, 25. Alex Gerrard.